Before the season started, USC coach Michael Cooper said redshirt senior guard Jacki Gemelos was as healthy as he’d ever seen her – maybe 70 percent.
Against Fresno State, 70 percent turned out to be more than enough.
Gemelos poured in a career-high 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting and helped the Women of Troy (8-3) take down Fresno State, 82-78. With the win, USC wrapped up non-conference schedule with its best record since the 1994-95 season.
Fresno State (8-5) jumped out to an early 11-2 lead behind hot shooting from guard Jaleesa Ross, who matched Gemelos shot for shot and finished with a game-high 29 points.
But the Women of Troy battled back with a 14-3 run that gave them the lead with 10 minutes left in the first half.
USC took a slim 38-34 lead into the half, and extended that lead to as many as nine points early in the second half before the Bulldogs clawed back in front with 10 minutes remaining.
One minute later, Gemelos scored again to give USC – thanks to some clutch free throw shooting – a lead it would not relinquish. The Bulldogs closed the gap to two points with 30 seconds left before late free throws by junior guard Ashley Corral and sophomore forward Christina Marinacci sealed the win.
Due in no small part to Gemelos’ torrid shooting, USC finished the game shooting 51 percent from the field. Three other players – junior guard Briana Gilbreath, freshman forward Cassie Harberts and Corral – reached double figures for the Women of Troy, scoring 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively.
USC held the Bulldogs to 42 percent shooting, who converted only 9 of 15 free throw attempts. The Women of Troy knocked down 14 of their 17 attempts from the line.
USC now heads to Seattle to open Pac-10 conference play against Washington on New Years Eve. Two days later, the Women of Troy face Washington State in Pullman.